Both the Spitzer and Hubble telescopes that have proven to be the Columbus`s of NASA have stumbled upon what may be the most distant galaxy ever seen by any one man. This newly discovered galaxy most likely existed within a very important era of our universe which was known as the cosmic dark ages. During this Dark Age in our universe is when it went from a dull, dark and starless state to an entity of cosmos and a sky full of galaxies.
This discovery opens the door for further study that could give NASA scientists the clue to the evolution of our galaxy. Wei Zheng who is a principle research scientist in the department of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland said, "This galaxy is the most distant object we have ever observed with high confidence. Future work involving this galaxy, as well as others like it that we hope to find, will allow us to study the universe`s earliest objects and how the dark ages ended." (Zheng, W., 2012).
One amazing statistic about this newly discovered galaxy is that the light emulating from it did not reach the Spitzer and Hubble telescopes before traveling 13.2 billion light years. This means that the starlight emulating from it was picked up by scientists when the galaxy was just 3.6 percent of its present age. And at the speed of light which if I am correct is 176,000 miles an hour would tell you how far off this galaxy really is compared to our universe.
Scientists use a tool called a redshift to measure distance in space which is just about equivalent to how a fathometer works. If any of you are familiar with sailing or Oceanography then you know what a fathometer is and what it is used for. For those of you who are not familiar with the term fathometer, a fathometer is a tool that is used as a sonic depth finder. It uses sonic waves that come from the bottom of the ship or boat wherever the fathometer is attached normally on the bottom of the boat and those sonic waves bounce off the ocean floor. It is an echo sounder that is used to measure the depth of water and it tells you the distant the bottom of your boat is to the ocean floor so you don`t run aground in shallow water. We used many fathometers when I was in the Coast Guard while we were underway so we didn`t hit anything out in total darkness in the middle of nowhere at sea where you sometimes couldn`t even see your hand in front of your face as we were performing law enforcement boarding`s or saving a vessel in distress or just routinely patrolling. The fathometer was our life saver.
It`s also what a lot of Commercial fisherman use to find large schools of fish in deep water which tells them where to cast their nets to find the most fish for their catch. The redshift does not use a sonic signal or radio frequency like sonar to judge distances; but rather measures how much an object`s light has shifted into longer wavelengths as a result of the expansion of the universe. So, the wavelengths in the redshift would work just like the sonar signal in a Fathometer. They measure distance but in a different light (so to speak).
This new galaxy had a redshift measurement of z " or 9.6. The z " is almost like a term in an algebraic equation but the overall operation on how scientist arrived at the 9.6 variable is different than how the operation of a normal equation in algebra is worked. I guess if you put it in basic math terms it may look like, a + b = z. The (a) would be the galaxy itself, the (b) would be the distance to the Spitzer and Hubble telescopes and the (z) is the answer or 9.6 variable. The redshift tool to astronomers is what the fathometer is to ship captains; an overall tool used for measuring.
Although the Spitzer and Hubble telescopes use a very strong lens that is capable of seeing anything from many miles away this new galaxy was so far away that scientist had to use what is known as gravitational lensing to be able to get a clear look at it.
This technology was first developed by Albert Einstein over a century ago and uses the gravity of foreground objects and warps and magnifies the light from background objects to be able to see better at long distances. It works almost like being near sighted. Your glasses magnify objects at longer distances to be able to bring them clearer into sight and see them better like the premise of gravitational lensing does.
NASA scientists had a little help bringing this far off galaxy closer into view since there was a massive galaxy cluster which was situated between our galaxy and the far off new galaxy which magnified the far off and new galaxy`s light which ended up brightening the remote object some fifteen times lager and helped bring it into a more viewable distance.
Based on what information the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes and the gravitational lensing technology brought back to NASA scientists; the hypothesis about this new and wondrous, far off galaxy is that it is less than 200 million years old when it was viewed by NASA. It also is small and compact and contains only about one-percent of the Milky Way`s mass. The normal scientific theories is that galaxies do supposedly start of tiny and then grow into the size of large spaces (so to speak) that most modern galaxies look like today. Almost the same concept as the Chia Pet does. If any of you used to watch the old reruns of Gomer Pile, the Beverly Hillbillies (not that I ever did, yea right!) then you would see those old Chia Pet commercials. Just add water to the enclosed bag of seeds, spread it like mud on you Chia Pet and watch it grow! Wow, Chia Pet, the Pottery that grows "well, in a matter of speaking the tiny galaxy starts out as nothing and grows into a large mass probably like your Chia Pet did if you were ever desperate enough to buy one, I won`t mention my opinion on the Pet Rock but I will say whoever developed that idea made millions off something as simple as taking a rock and selling it.
Anyway, back to science.
So, what scientists are looking at is these types of newly discovered galaxies they are finding now played a huge role in the ionization of them which is the event that signaled the demise of the dark ages of the universe some, 400,000 years after what science refers to the Big Bang Theory (yes, like the nightly sitcom with Sheldon, Penny and well watch it and find out who else plays on the show) but in a different light. We all know that God created the Heavens and Earth but from the science standpoint, scientists believe that neutral hydrogen gas formed from cooling particles then a few hundred million years later is when stars and their host galaxies emerged.
If you have studies science and astronomy then you know that it that big and star strewn universe out there that there is still tons of neutral hydrogen floating aimlessly like a feather floating freely from the sky; the formation of the first galaxies is thought to have caused this free floating neutral hydrogen to ionize or to lose its electrons which is the state the hydrogen gas has remained in to this day from the first formation of galaxies.
Leonidas Moustakas who is a research scientist at NASA`s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California said, "In essence, during the epoch of reionization, the lights came on in the universe. " (Moustakas, L., 2012). So, in simple terms like watching one particular commercial during those old sitcoms on Nick at Night called The Clapper " just like clapping your hands and the lights go on, with the bang (in scientific terms) of the Big Bang Theory and wella! The universes lights came on; the lights being the stars.
NASA plans to invest a lot of time in studying the rise of the first stars and galaxies and the epoch of reionization. They also plan to launch the James Webb telescope scheduled for around 2018 and the newly discovered galaxy will more than likely be the main target to study.
NASA TELESCOPES SPY ULTRA-DISTANT GALAXY AMIDST COSMIC `DARK AGES`,
(www.nasa.gov/spitzer) and (www.nasa.gov/hubble). Retrieved 2012.
Hey, " all you Baseball fans and sports fanatics out there keep an eye out for my next book on the complete game and history of Major League baseball. Buy your copy when it is available in the market, it will be more fun to read than calling play by play action in the announcers booth in Game Seven of the World Series. Release date and title to come. I will let you know when I know from my publisher.